FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 6, 2022
Ref: 3/18/22 Officer-Involved Shooting in a/o of 6970 Rooks Court, Frederick, MD 21701
The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office has reviewed body-worn camera footage, witness statements, and other evidence collected in the March 18, 2022 police-involved shooting involving DFC Christian Lucente in the area of 6970 Rooks Court. After reviewing all evidence and consulting with the investigators assigned to this incident, my office has concluded that the use of deadly force by DFC Christian Lucente against Lookman-Khalil Bello was necessary and proportional. Therefore, it was legally justified under Maryland law given the standard set by the United States Supreme Court case of Graham v. Connor. As a result, it is our opinion that DFC Lucente did not commit a crime and therefore no charges will be placed against DFC Lucente. We do not opine on lesser conduct and this opinion does not preclude any administrative actions that may be taken by Internal Affairs.
As Lookman-Khalil Bello has pending criminal charges against him, it is the policy of the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office not to release any evidence, including the body worn camera footage, nor provide further comment at this time. The decision to not release evidence, including any verbal or non-verbal statements therein, being used against the Defendant at trial is governed by the Maryland Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 19-303.6 and Rule 19-303.8 (e), which state in part:
(e) except for statements that are necessary to inform the public of the nature and extent of the prosecutor’s action and that serve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, [prosecutors shall] refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and exercise reasonable care to prevent an employee or other person under the control of the prosecutor in a criminal case from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 19-303.6.
A prosecutor has the responsibility of a minister of justice and not simply that of an advocate. This responsibility carries with it specific obligations to see that the defendant is accorded procedural justice and that guilt is decided upon the basis of sufficient evidence. The potential impact of pretrial publicity on a pending prosecution must be balanced against the public’s interest in transparency and police accountability. It is our duty to consider the due process rights of the accused when deciding whether to release, or to advise police departments to release, body-worn camera footage pre-trial. With that said, the existing rules and law prioritize the functioning of our justice system over the public’s right and demand to immediately see and hear the evidence in any case.
This decision to not release certain evidence at this time is merely temporary. In all police-involved shootings a full declination report disclosing and detailing all the evidence, including body worn camera footage, and the decision-making process as it relates to the use of force will be released by our office upon the conclusion of the pending criminal prosecution.
J. Charles Smith III